So, does talking to teens about difficult issues, like puberty, make you feel uncomfortable? Well, don’t worry. You are not alone. Research undertaken by Boots and P&G found that 33% of parents wish they could talk more openly with their teens. It’s one of those aspects of parenting that I’m sure we all thought when we were growing up, that we would be the cool parents about. Those ones that would easily sit and chat all things personal with our teens without blushing from head to toe or stumbling over our words. However, the research shows that as many as 68% of us find it difficult to address topics around puberty and some even avoid the #TeenTalk completely. Let’s try and turn these figures around. Let’s be those parents that we always thought we would be. Let’s get #TeenTalk happening out there!
As part of the #TeenTalk campaign by Boots UK, Gabby Logan and her daughter Lois took part in the #TeenTalk experiment along with other parents which involved talking to their teens every other day for a week about such tricky topics. The results of this experiment are on www.boots.com/toiletries/teen-talk. Gabby talks openly about how tricky it can be to talk to teens, I have three, I know that feeling. But, Gabby found that by having these talks they both learnt so much about each other. There is help out there and by talking to other parents and learning from their experiences can really help other parents through this stage too.
So, inspired by the work of Gabby and her daughter, and the initiative behind Boots’ #TeenTalk, I bring you my five top tips to making these conversations easier.
1. Try to keep the lines of communication open from a young age.
If you’ve always been there to listen, made time to listen and talked openly from when they were small then this is just one more of those issues that need to be discussed like not picking your nose, putting your hands down your trousers or talking about poo in public! I jest. It’s not always easy but it goes a long way to make the conversations a little easier.
2. Be empathic
Appreciate that this is a tricky time for them and that they may be really embarrassed. Tell them that’s OK and that you cringed too when your mum had the chat! Be really matter of fact. It is what it is and everyone goes through it. Even the Queen. It helps to inject some humour!
3. Seek help from other parents.
I was very lucky as my husband’s sister was a few years older than me and I watched her go through the teen stage with her three. She was so realistic about it. And she was a great one for books on puberty. In fact, she made it look so easy that it didn’t seem quite so daunting when I had to talk to mine about it. So if there is a parent you know out there with older children, speak to them. The blogging world is also another source of excellent advice from parents who have been through it and I am sure many wouldn’t mind giving advice if asked!
4. Choose your chat time carefully.
This is crucial. Maybe, just as they’ve got in from school and they are cranky, isn’t the best time. Or first thing in the morning. Or when they are in the middle of watching yet another Netflix series. Goodness, we are running out of times! Joking aside, though, the car is a good place as minimal eye contact involved which may suit some teens better. Also, I found with mine that just before bed was a good time. Mine often prefer to talk at the end of the day. Let them lead the conversation. It helps to hear what is really on their mind.
5. Use a hypothetical example to get the conversation started.
Something like “Oh I was chatting to so & so yesterday and they were saying that their son/daughter …” insert anything in the blanks. It helps them realise that others are going through it and that they aren’t alone. Obviously, it needs to be someone they don’t know otherwise all sorts of issues could arise!
Hopefully, some of these tips will help. Though it’s worth appreciating that they probably know it all already from the playground, older siblings or Netflix! However, don’t rely on this as it will mean so much to them that you have tried to talk to them and that they know you’re there for them if needed. Every child is different and what may work for one may not for another. You can only do your best.
As another means of help, Boots are offering great value promotions so please go in store and get your free teentalk guide at Boots when you buy any Tampax, Always, Aussie or Venus product until the 6th June. There’s help out there. Let’s get this teen talk issue sorted – just saying!
Disclosure: I’m working in a paid relationship with Boots UK, P&G and Britmums on their #TeenTalk campaign which aims to help parents be more confident in talking with their teens. You can get additional advice and tips, an learn about special offers on trusted products on the Boots #TeenTalk site www.boots.com/toiletries/teen-talk